Each December, police, fire, and other emergency service departments around the country don a completely different role. Rather than chasing down bad guys, putting out fires, or going to accidents, they get together and take children to a local store to go shopping for Christmas presents.
It's all part of an annual event called "Shop With A Cop".
Each child gets a certain amount of money that was raised through community donations to spend on whatever they want; marking off items on their Christmas lists. Often times the kids will choose to also get something for a sibling or cousin.
The goal of Shop With A Cop is to breakdown the barriers between emergency services and the younger generations, with the hopes of building stronger relationships between them and the community.
The benefit of living in a small community does have its perks.
In Page, this year's event started before the sun began to rise on Saturday morning. At 6am,
tired parents with enthusiastic kids in tow started arriving at the Page Public Safety Facility. The kids were provided name tags and colored ribbons to indicate who they are and what they had chosen to eat; breakfast is donated every year by Jack-in-the-Box. They were then partnered with officers from the Page Police Department, the National Park Service, the Coconino County Sheriff's Department, the Navajo Nation Police Department, Arizona DPS, and firefighters from the Page Fire Department. While waiting for everyone to be checked in and partnered up, the kids were provided with a quick energy making snack: donuts and
Here in Page, the kids are able to ride in emergency vehicles on their way through town while they head toward Walmart. While in the vehicles, the kids are able to control both the sirens and the lights as the convoy of vehicles parades down North Lake Powell Blvd. on their way to meet Santa and pick out their presents.
This year there were 98 children who were able to participate, the largest number Page has seen to-date. Through the donations, each child was able to spend $100 (including tax) on presents.
When they arrived,
the entire group stood in front of Walmart to get a group picture, then the floodgates were opened. There were smiles, laughter, and an infectious happiness that radiated from the group. LPNN followed the boisterous group around while they did their shopping. After getting their carts, the stream of kids, which according to one LPNN viewer was reminiscent of a Black Friday invasion, headed straight to the toy section. No toy below the top shelf was safe.
As the kids started filling up their shopping carts, many began receiving lessons in how money works. There were looks of shock when they found out they were already out of money with just a handful of items. The assigned personnel were able to use these as teaching opportunities, explaining to the kids that they could begin checking out, or they could put a toy back and get more toys that were not as expensive. Many happily chose to put a toy back and get more smaller toys.
Carts were being filled with books, Legos, Horses, Nerf Guns, military vehicles, tablets, Shopkins, board games, radio controlled vehicles, Fortnite action figures, Barbie dolls, and more.
One rather enthusiastic girl told LPNN very energetically "we've got two carts now!" She skipped away singing "shop with a cop" in a tune she had made up.
When asked if he was certain about a certain gift, one boy said rather fervently to his assigned officer "yep! I don't care. I really like these instead."
As a group was heading out, there were Walmart greeters at the door. One particular young lady thanked them and wished them a "merry merry Christmas." When one of the greeters asked if she had fun, the young girl couldn't speak a word but was only able to respond through wide eyes, a grin to match, and a nodding of the head that looked like she was a bobble-head doll.
Once the kids were done with their shopping, they then headed to breakfast at Jack-in-the-Box.
After re-fueling, the kids headed back to the Public Safety Facility where they wrapped their gifts and waited to be picked up.
If you missed all the smiles and fun, you can check out our live coverage of this year's Shop With A Cop event here.
This year's sponsors and donors were (in alphabetic order):
Boston's Ace Hardware
Dennis R. Robinson
Dixie Ellis' Lower Antelope Canyon Tours
Escalante Jeep Tours
Greenehaven Development Corp.
Jack-in-the-Box, Page Az.
Lake Powell Furniture
Page Elks Lodge
Page Lake Powell Ford
Sacred Mountain Medical Services
T.M. & Darlene Van Hemelryck
Walmart, Page Az.
Donations are accepted year-round for this event.
If you are wanting to donate for next year, you can send a check to the Page Police Department at
PO Box 3005
Page, AZ 86040
Attention Sandi Klain
Checks can be made payable to "Shop with a Cop"
If you would like to find out how you can donate in other ways, contact Sandi Klain at the Page Police Department at 928-645-2463.
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